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This is the narrative I wrote a couple of years ago about the Christmas that my dad gave me my first gun, my Marlin Golden 39M.

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Christmas Morning, 1975

December 25, 1975 was a fairly typical Christmas day with my family. Even though I was 14 years old, Christmas still held a special mystery for me. Maybe because I was the youngest of 4 siblings, it always seemed like something extra special would happen that justified the waiting and the wondering. My oldest brother was still single and he was there early that morning. He may have spent the night but I can’t be certain. As was typical in our household, there were unwrapped presents under the tree that morning marked “From Santa” even though it had been several years since anyone believed in Santa Claus. Once we worked through the unwrapped gifts and everyone had opened the wrapped gifts, we would usually go around and admire the other items that family members had received. My mom and dad would usually refill their coffee and someone would tell a harrowing shopping story about how they stood in line for a long period of time and the item they wanted to buy was sold out right as they were approaching the front of the line, or some other typical, urban “adventure.” At some point there would be a lull in the conversation and then everyone would spring into action, putting up their gifts or gathering up wrapping paper. My mom would usually go back in the kitchen to work on the Christmas feast. On this particular Christmas, that lull had arrived and I thought my dad was going to instruct us to start the clean up process. Instead, he looked at me with no expression on his face and said: “I think you might have one more present, why don’t you go look in my closet.” I leapt up with nervous excitement and ran back to my mom & dad’s bedroom and opened the door to my dad’s perfectly organized closet. There was never anything out of place in my dad’s closet. It was a picture of precision with everything always in its place and every inch of space utilized perfectly. This made it quite easy to spot the one item that was out of place: a short, army-green, rifle case. I couldn’t believe my eyes and I grabbed the heavy, canvas case and ran back into the den where my dad and the rest of the family was waiting. My dad was grinning from ear to ear and my mom looked as surprised as I was when she saw what I had retrieved from dad’s closet. I was so excited that I unzipped the case while holding it upside down and out slid the most beautiful gift I had ever received: A Marlin, Golden 39M Mountie, lever action, .22LR, rimfire rifle. I was joyously stunned and my mom was slightly dismayed that my dad had given me a gun. I think my dad enjoyed the consternation of my mom almost as much as he enjoyed my rapturous delight. My oldest brother then gave me a 500 round brick of Winchester, Super-X .22LR ammunition. My dad helped my oldest brother do his shopping that Christmas Eve and they had stopped in at a Service Merchandise. My dad had seen me ogle the .22 rifles there on more than one occasion and they just happened to have the Marlin 39M on sale. This was the rifle I had admired above all the others and never thought I would actually own one. Especially not in 1975!

An Act of Grace, Borne from Love

1975 was the culmination of a series of 4 or 5 rough years in a row for me. My dad and I had a rocky relationship at the time, primarily because of my rebellion. I was especially surprised by my dad’s kindness given this dynamic in our home. My dad demonstrated grace to me. I didn’t deserve it and actually deserved just the opposite. My dad, while I was yet in rebellion to him, showed his love for me by this simple act of grace: he gave me a material possession that I wanted, probably more than any other, and showed me that he was going to love me even through my acts of rebellion. I professed faith in Christ a few months later and my life changed dramatically because of the transforming power of the Gospel. I can’t help but think that God used this act of love to prepare my heart for the truth of the Gospel.

How much more has God demonstrated His love for His children:

Mathew 7:11
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! (NASB)
Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (NASB)

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Very heartwarming story. Well written too. Thanks for sharing the story and the rifle!
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